FORMER US Poet Laureate and recipient of the 2007 National Book Award, Prof. Robert Hass, will be in Israel next week and will hold a poetry reading and discussion with Israeli poets. Unless it's a stop by the maternity wing to welcome the arrival of a new baby, hospital visits are not very pleasant. Some hospitals have brightened up their entrance ways by turning them into art galleries or by incorporating shopping malls, or both. Rambam Medical Center in Haifa has gone a step further by installing a permanent exhibition dealing with health in the Land of Israel. The exhibition, which takes its name from the verse in Exodus: "And shall cause him to be thoroughly healed," was set up by the State Treasures Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority and consists of two collections - one dating from the Canaanite period until the latter part of the Islamic period; and the other from the 19th-century renewal of settlement in the Land of Israel. The first collection belongs to the Antiquities Authority, and the second was amassed by Dr. Alex Vilemski of Rambam Hospital, and is exhibited courtesy of MedaTech, the Haifa-based Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space. The exhibition went on view this week within the framework of Rambam's 70th anniversary celebrations. AGENT TO celebrities in Israel and the US, Nili Tvig, whose client list includes Ellen Burstyn (who starred in Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More) married off her daughter Hila to Yaron Mishkin, who divides his time between Tel Aviv and Miami. The couple met over the Internet and discovered that they were soul mates. Guests from among the local celebrities included Yona Elian, Tzipi Shavit, Ran Rahav, Shuki Zikri, Yitzhak Livni and several others whose names appear frequently in the media. HERZLIYA PITUAH is home to an impressive number of high-tech companies as well as to other commercial ventures, and Ofra Bell, who is the person assigned by the Herzliya Municipality to be responsible for Herzliya Industrial Zones, wanted to show appreciation to those business firms which have chosen the city as the headquarters for their operations. She also wanted to attract other business people to Herzliya and to raise a toast to successful business in the new year. She therefore invited Bank Leumi CEO Galia Maor, singer Ilanit, former basketball star and current insurance agent Tal Brody and several other business people from outside Herzliya to a cocktail reception and performance of Kol Nidre by the Herzliya Theater Ensemble. It was a pleasant way to bid farewell to 2007 and to welcome 2008. SOCIAL WELFARE Minister Isaac Herzog and Givatayim Mayor Reuven Ben Shahar are scheduled to attend an Alut benefit concert at the Givatayim Theater on Saturday, January 12, organized by the Givatayim Gur Aryeh chapter of the Lions Club. Entertainment will be provided by the famed Adler Harmonica Trio, who will host a pair of violin virtuosi as well as singer Marina Maximillian-Bloomin, who rose to fame after her appearance in A Star is Born. Alut, the Society for Autistic Children and Adults, is also being supported by James Richardson Duty Free Stores at Ben-Gurion Airport. As of this week James Richardson began selling packages of three greeting cards illustrated by autistic artists for $1.50 per package, with proceeds going to Alut. Tzvika Idan, Alut director-general, notes that there has been an increase in autism in recent years and with this the realization that more facilities have to be provided for treating autistic infants. Funds accumulated through James Richardson and through concerts and other events will be used for this purpose. ZAKA, THE volunteer paramedical and rescue organization manned largely by haredim, has opened a new branch in Ramat Hasharon, and instantly had a new volunteer in the person of Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzik Rochberger who told Zaka founder and chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav that he wanted to be the first to sign up for duty. n FORMER US Poet Laureate and recipient of the 2007 National Book Award, Prof. Robert Hass, will be in Israel next week and will hold a poetry reading and discussion with Israeli poets Moshe Dor, Sabina Messeg, Naim Araidi, Shirley Kaufman and Ronny Sommek at a conference to be hosted on January 8 by the Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Department of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University. The conference will focus on "Ecocriticism," a field that is becoming part of mainstream cultural research in many parts of the world, but is still relatively new in Israel. "Ecocriticism is a mode of radically rethinking the relationship between philosophy, aesthetic representation and the physical environment, and it challenges some of the most basic tenets of western civilization," explains Dr. Milette Shamir, Head of the Department of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University, who sees Hass's visit as "an exciting opportunity for the Israeli literary, artistic and environmental communities to come together."